STATEHOUSE-A bill to protect renters, co-authored by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Jimtown) and Rep. Tim Neese (R-Elkhart), passed the House of Representatives Tuesday night by a vote of 92-2.
House Bill (HB) 1073 provides that a tenant leasing a dwelling may break their lease if the tenant is the victim of certain crimes, including burglary, residential entry and criminal trespass committed at the dwelling.
In order to do so, the tenant would have to file a petition with a court and provide supporting evidence to the judge-such as a certified copy of the police report filed in connection with the crime.
Currently, tenants are not allowed to terminate lease agreements by reason of they are victims of certain crimes in or near their residence.
Rep. Walorski and Rep. Neese became aware of the need for such a law after Bristol woman Sheena Kiska, 23, was murdered in her apartment just one month after it was burglarized.
Kiska had requested to break her lease because she did not feel safe, but her landlord wanted to fine her three months' rent in order to do so.
"There's no reason a victim should be forced to continue living in what is essentially a crime scene," said Rep. Walorski. "I appreciate the willingness of the Indiana Apartment Association to work on this bill with us."
"This is a victory for renters who feel they have no choice financially but to stay in an unsafe apartment," said Rep. Neese. "No one should have to make a choice between being safe and facing penalties for breaking their apartment lease. This is a matter of public safety and feeling safe."
Rep. Walorski and Rep. Neese can be reached by phone at 1-800-382-9841.